Birding isn’t at the forefront of most people’s minds when going on safari. It is normally the ‘hairy-scary’ animals that attract all the attention. Whether it is a pride of lions feasting on a buffalo or a herd of elephants making their way through a meandering river, people generally forget that it is often the small things on safari that help the delicate balance of nature.
For most safari goers, birding takes a back seat with the ‘Big 5’ being the most important things to tick-off, however as people return to Africa for their safaris time and time again, there are sometimes days where you may not see many mammals so to make things interesting, birds become a natural interest. There are so many species and varieties that it can be overwhelming to begin with.

Whether you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the extremely rare Pel’s Fishing Owl, hoping to hear the call of the woodland’s Kingfisher or if you are just trying to work out what the small brown bird that looks like every other small brown bird is – birding can be great fun and we have a handful of favourite destination all across Africa where birding can be wonderful.
For families with younger children, birding may seem boring, but this can be easily turned into a game. Give your child a picture of the beautifully coloured bird that just flew past and see if they can identify it in their bird book!

The best birding safaris in Africa

– An untamed and wild nature reserve that spans over fifty-four thousand square kilometres is teeming with wildlife. A large majority of the reserve is dissected by meandering waterways and deep lagoons where crocodiles lurk and hippos frolic. These waterways are the perfect place for birding safaris. As you cruise along in your small and intimate boat, you will see the flashes of purple as malachite kingfishers dive to catch their fish, yellow-billed and open-billed storks wade through the shallows before roosting at sunset. Most camps in the Selous are situated very close or on the water allowing for beautiful views and excellent birding whilst sitting at camp.

Zambia – The home of walking safaris also offers brilliant birding opportunities by foot and by boat.  How you choose to do your birding is of course up to you, but there are so many opportunities here that not to appreciate the bird life in Zambia would certainly be a missed opportunity. One bird species that attracts safari lovers are the carmine bee-eaters. During August and September the intra-African migrants flock to the banks of the Luangwa where they can be seen nesting in the banks. They come in their thousands and both males and females dig individual breeding tunnels in the river’s banks. Early mornings and late afternoons are generally the best time to see the most activity with the bee-eaters, and the golden light provides perfect photo opportunities. The birds stick around until the beginning of December once their eggs have hatched and the breeding season is over before they head south.

South Africa – The summers in South Africa are a joy to behold for bird viewing. Although many raptors can be seen throughout the year, as can the various doves, coucals and tchagras, many of South Africa’s wonderful bird life appears from November onwards. Whether it is the Amur falcon which travels from distant Russia or the woodlands Kingfisher that only migrates to sub-Saharan Africa, the bushveld is transformed from a dry and dusty brown into an emerald kingdom full of vibrant colours and flourishing flora. The Greater Kruger is a wonderful area for bird viewing, as is Phinda Game Reserve, both of which are also renowned for their excellent guiding.


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